The first big championship challenge of the 2017 season is waiting for the Austrian Grasser Racing Team this weekend at Misano/Italy. The over four kilometre long circuit close to the Adriatic coast from Friday onwards hosts the first event of the Blancpain GT Sprint series, one the most highly rated international championships in GT racing. During the qualifying race on Saturday evening and the main race in Sunday midday the drivers of the 34 cars entered for the event and provided by seven different premium manufacturers twice will have the chance to prove their abilities in close wheel-to-wheel racing.
Grasser Racing Team will be present with two cars as it will be at all the Blancpain-GT-Series races. In car number 19, Argentinian Ezequiel Companc, who recently proved his abilities to the team in the US, will share driving duties with Austrian Norbert Siedler.
In car number 63 two already well known Grasser drivers will be seen behind the wheel: Italian Mirko Bortolotti and German Christian Engelhart, who can celebrate a for the rise in his career this season. He was upgraded into the group of the official Lamborghini factory drivers, of which Botolotti was already part – as the only “foreigner” besides four Italians. So, he is now a member of the special group of drivers who act as brand ambassadors for Lamborghini on and off track and are also strongly involved into the development work of the Italian company.
Both undoubtedly belong to the top drivers in GT3 racing and recently represented GRT Grasser Racing at the 12 hours of Sebring. There a podium finish seemed to be in reach until one and a half hours before the end of the race, even with the drivers having to put up with a non-working power steering in their Lamborghini Huracán. “But then exactly at the wrong moment for us a Full Course Yellow period happened, which completely destroyed our strategy, so we finally had to put up with P9,” team principal Gottfried Grasser was a bit annoyed.
As a small consolation, at the same weekend in another 12-hour-race at Mugello/Italy, GRT reached second position in the A6-Am category and P7 in the overall classification with Mark Ineichen, Christoph Lenz, Roberto Pampanini and Milos Pavlovic.
In the Blancpain GT-Serie the Austrian aims to be fighting at the top end of the field from the beginning. “We are very vell prepared for the 2017 season”, Grasser is optimistic. „The Blancpain Endurance- and Sprint tests in March showed us that the new Pirelli tyre perfectly suits our Lamborghini Huracán GT3. The tyre really seems to help us a bit.” Nevertheless the task in hand will not be easy: “Finding the correct set-up will be difficult, as the tyre only works perfectly within a very small temperature window. Our drivers will have to get there step by step.”
Even as there might be an additional factor coming into play over the weekend, as the weather forecast predicts some rain for Sunday, Grasser has set high goals anyway: “We enter the season with the approach of having to finish on the podium every time in Blancpain Endurance and in Blancpain Sprint. It should be possible with our professional drivers and our well-experienced team.”
GRT Grasser Racing Team – Wolfgang Koepp
GRT Grasser Program next races 2017
12 Hours Red Bull Ring – Creventic 12/24h
07.04.2017 – 08.04.2017
Monza – Blancpain Endurance Series
22.04.2017 – 23.04.2017
Oschersleben – ADAC GT Masters
28.04.2017 – 30.04.2017
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team